Director Chen Kaige's blockbuster film "The Promise" certainly
is a headline grabber.
The most expensive Chinese film every made - costing 340 million
yuan (US$42.5 million) - it was also the subject of a popular
Now, the movie company that made the film has been accused of
damaging the environment at a location where one of its film sets
"The shooting of 'The Promise' has destroyed the natural
surroundings of Bigu Tianchi in
Yunnan Province's Shangri-la," Qiu Baoxing, vice minister of
construction, said on Tuesday at a forum in Hangzhou, capital of
A reinforced concrete structure was abandoned on the shore of the
lake, and more than 100 spiles in the water, Qiu said, citing media
reports. Moreover, canteens, raincoats, bottles and plastic bags
litter the area.
The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the
nation's top environmental watchdog, has instructed the provincial
environmental protection bureau to investigate the issue, Zhu
Xingxiang, a SEPA official, said yesterday.
He said that SEPA had not received a letter of complaint about
the movie company's alleged environmental misdemeanors.
The film set was built at Bigu Tianchi, a mountain lake at an
altitude of 4,000 meters in picturesque Shangri-la County.
Some reports indicated that the ecosystem around the lake had
also been destroyed. A China Central Television report covered the
story late last month.
Qiu's remark was the first official criticism involving the
deterioration of the lake's environment.
Chen Hong, the movie's producer and Chen Kaige's wife, told
People's Daily that things had been left behind to be
auctioned off to help pay for the clean-up. However, the Chongqing
Commercial News reported Chen as saying that the company had given
money to the local government to deal with the problem.
No confirmation of any money given to a local government could
be made yesterday, but Li Jufang, an official of the Diqing Tibet
Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, said clean-up work had begun.
The concrete structure on the lakeshore has been mostly
dismantled, Li said, who insisted that the work affected the
surrounding environment only slightly.
Last August, the movie company sent a letter entrusting disposal
of the material left on site to the prefecture government, Li
The prefecture government then told the Shangri-la county
government to auction off the materials left behind to help pay for
the clean-up, the official said.
"A lesson learnt from this is that we will demand that whoever
shoots a movie here in the future is committed to protecting the
environment," Li said.
An online survey by the website Sina.com indicated that 95
percent of the respondents thought the shooting of the movie
destroyed the environment and more than 80 percent suggested that
authorities adopt regulations to avoid future incidents.
Lu Xinyuan, another SEPA official, said regulations to this
effect would be drafted in the future. Further site investigations
need to be conducted before a decision is made to ban or restrict
the future shooting of movies at scenic sites.
(China Daily May 11, 2006)